January 8th, 2008
04:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton targets media coverage of Obama

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Watch Bill Clinton's comments Monday night.

(CNN) - On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, former President Bill Clinton criticized the media for not pressing Barack Obama more fully on Iraq, and accused the Illinois senator of shifting his position to reflect changing attitudes on the war.

"It is wrong that Sen. Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war," Clinton said at a campaign stop in Hanover, New Hampshire.

"And you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004. And there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."

He added, "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Clinton's wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is battling Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former president briefly acknowledged that his wife's senior campaign advisor, Mark Penn, was mistaken to claim that Obama had no bounce out of Iowa after winning the state's caucuses because the poll numbers on the day after were relatively unchanged.

Then he abruptly changed the subject - suggesting that Obama's campaign had employed underhanded tactics.

"What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me - scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million and indicted innocent people to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon.

"So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt. He felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa," said Clinton. "But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true - and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months - is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there."

He added, lightheartedly, "Otherwise, I do not have any strong feelings about that subject."

The former president made the remarks as polls showed his wife trailing Obama in this important first-in-the-nation primary state.

Responding to the comments later Tuesday, Obama said the Clinton campaign was "frustrated," and he dismissed the notion the press has gone easier on him.

"Maybe I've been missing something, but it seems like you guys have been reporting on me the entire year," Obama told reporters. "I remember this summer when we were down 20 points, we were getting knocked around pretty good. And I didn't hear the Clinton camp complaining about how terrible the press was."

Related video: Watch John King and Jessica Yellin on Bill Clinton's comments

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (1,430 Responses)
  1. lisa

    It is funny to me that as I have read comments, the women are more angry torward Bill Clinton than talking about the issues Hillary is for and about.
    She is way far more educated than Obama and experienced.
    Her "failed" healthcare plan was her putting her neck out there for change... so she has been pulling for change since way before Obama was in politics.
    I am not against Obama.. I will just add.
    I am just noticing.. I wonder if some women are not wanting her in due to Bill's personal mistakes.. That is definately not a way to make a descision.
    If you would do research on her, you would find she is very smart on her own without Bill.

    January 8, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. Liv Manto

    Denise Jolly, are you for real,

    stop living in the lala land. jobs out of usa? Have you gone mad?

    During clinton, we didnt have debts, our husbands and son were safe at home, the world does not hate us, everyone can buy a decent house.

    What do you wish to do, sing songs and dance all day with OBama?

    January 8, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |

    i can't understand why someone would want their country by

    January 8, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. Easy Choice, Edwards!

    Barack Hussein is a scammer with his CHANGE. So much for CHANGE when he has all Bill Clinton's former advisers. WHAT? That's right kiddies, all those old people you bash are on Barack's team, and former Clinton teamers!

    Go Edwards 08!

    January 8, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. anthony

    Chill out people, the truth of the matter is there isn't much difference policy wise between Obama and Clinton, it is just a matter of who you personally like better. Policy wise they will follow the same tracks

    January 8, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. anthony

    Now Easy choice Edwards, no need for that kind of talk, Edwards is a nice guy and so is Obama

    January 8, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |

    I can't understand why someone would want their country run by the Clintons who propagates hate.

    January 8, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  8. Jose Card - Independent

    Hi Jr., California,

    "I am still waiting for someone to tell me about H.C.'s 35 years of experience. I am still waiting after 6 requests.

    I'll tell you what, if someone can answer the question, I'll vote for her."

    I have had the same question since Hillary started to brag about her experience, which simply doesn't make sense to me. If CNN would allow this posting after several attempts on my part, you may get something this time.

    Just google for "Newsweek Hillary Hidden Hand" and you will find the article that may give you the answer you and many others seek.

    Hillary did get lots of experience from Bill's administration. She prefers presidential power to fidelity. How true is this article? It's written by a Clinton biographer and you are the judge.

    That may explain why it is unnecessary for Bill to release the documents from his administration before this primary and Election 2012.

    January 8, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. Mike, Austin Texas

    I am severely dissapointed by Bill Clinton and this new desperation act in an attempt to tarnish Mr. Obama and boost votes for wife Hillary. I guess it just shows you what people will resort to when they are in a corner. I have respected Hillary up to this point and will add that while Bill did accomplish some great things while in office, he is hardly any person to be criticizing anyone else.

    January 8, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |

    It's a sad day in america because of the Clintons. You can see these two are sick.
    They want this at all cost no matter how the people feel about them.

    January 8, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  11. Byron

    How can you vote for someone because you like him, her or not,. When we vote we must step on the ground and look at the candidate's skills and the experience for the job.
    Hillary has it all and that s why some people who are calling themselves "independents" who are suppousedly leaning Democrats on today's primaries(maybe just for the primaries) are throwing as much mud as possible against Hillary by all means. They know she can win the White House and bring about change to America.
    Why do not you identify yourselves as independents leaning republicans and stop attacking the Clinton's who are a family loved and supported by most Democrats whether you like it or not. And it is not because they give good speeches, but rather because of the successful administration that they did run way better than the one that we have now.

    No one is perfect, but God stop judging and leave it to God.

    So Hillary do not give up and bring the White House back to the Democrats. U can certainly build a better future for us all. Facts are better than words.

    Hillary for President 08!!!

    January 8, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  12. Jayson

    Lets face it the Clinton camp is desperate. Once again she is trying to come across as human by crying (crying because she isn't getting the toy that she believes is rightfully hers). Also the attacks on Obama regarding the licenses for illegal immirgants is a joke. At least he wasn't the one who changed his opinion in the course of a single debate.

    If they wanted to make something an issue about Obama they might try attacking him for the numerous times he voted only as present.

    January 8, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  13. anthony

    You vote for them based on personal like or dislike when there is no difference between them policy wise.

    This thing about experience is overblown, our current president is a figurehead, the people he surrounds himself with make most of the decisions

    January 8, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |

    They play dirty. They can zap the thrillll out of a wet dream

    January 8, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  15. Margaret

    President Kennedy was one of the most loved and embrased Presidents in American history..It's all about what the press wants us to know...Kennedy's mistresses (plural) were being led out the back door as First Lady Jackie Kennedy was coming in the front. Enough about Bill's sex life and look at the wonderful things he did in Office. WE HAD NO DEFICiT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD ! This is a first ever in the history of our great country. A woman President married to a man who had also been President ! WOW . I think that it will take a power house like Hillary to, not only take over the mess from the Bush administration, but doing it in the middle of a war!!! That might be a first in history as well, I'm not sure, but war time is not a time for a President to be learning White House 101. No one seems to point fingers at the other candidates mates when they go out campaining together. Why should it be different for Bill. He is the very first man who may well be the first husband, first gentleman, first man ( or what ever they decide will be the appropriate title for him) of the White House. First Lady Jackie Kennedy did great works along side her husband, as will Bill when Hillary becomes President.

    January 8, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. rm

    Barack Obama in 2008 reminds one of George W in 2000.

    Largely unknown, and untested in the national and global context, and saying what everyone wanted to hear. Let's hope, Let's change, Let's hope, we'll make everything perfect, and let's hope some more.

    Do we need another on-the-job learner.

    January 8, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. James

    Obama talks about change. What a fairy tale. What is he going to change. What do we know about Obama and what he stands for? At least we know what Hillary Clinton stands for.

    January 8, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Hope Gethers

    From Obama Iowa 2008 to Obama New Hampshire 2008
    From Oakland, Califolrnia on the cell phone my 30-something son provided me to keep in touch with him in Brooklyn where he lives with new wife who is employed by AP Manhattan and points London and he at AOL Manhattan and Dulles, Maryland and beyond in Bangalore, I called THAT THURSDAY evening and declared: VICTOR, HISTORY IS BEING MADE!
    IOWA, white IOWA, voted that content of the character and capacity of the intellect matter more than skin color. And New Hampshire is poised to vote the same.

    Forty years later - January 3, 2008 - forty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr April 4, 1968 (when I was new teacher Oakland USD) a young man named Barack Obama, African and American, stands on the shoulders of MLK.

    A stunned Bill has called the rise of Barack Obama over his Hilary a fairy tale. I must admit I am too astonished. I'm ten years Hiary's senior, I grew up "colored" in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where summers I played jacks on the white marble stoops of our rented row house, 1940s. (By '60s I was at Berkeley and finally 1963 a college graduate.)

    Not a fairy tale, a real run for the presidency of United States of America by a colored man, an African-American, boggles my mind even though there was Selma Alabama and the Civil Rights Struggle and the sacrificeof MLK Jr.

    Thank your Barack Obama for the "audacity" of your HOPE. God be with you.

    January 8, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |

    Remember, these people have no concious. Thats why this country is suffering so.

    January 8, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  20. rabblerouser

    Experience and change aside, when Bill was president, we had peace, good jobs, lots of money, were able to buy big houses cheaply and gas at the pump dropped at one point to 99 cents a gallon. Who do you think made that happen? The Boggey man? If Hillary's strategies can bring about the same results, I'll vote for her. This isn't about Hillary or Obama, or Bill or anyone of these guys. This is all about me – and I'd like to have more money, peace and gas at 99 cents a gallon again, thank you...

    January 8, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  21. lisa

    why do people call Bill Clinton giving a speech "desperate for the Hillary camp"? Looking at the polls.. not too bad. Should not feel desperate. I didn't take the speech in that way at all.

    January 8, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. anthony

    LOL don't compare Obama to Bush, Obama was smarter at age 8 than Bush is now.

    Of course I can say the same thing about the entire Democratic field versus Bush as well

    January 8, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  23. Sinead in Ireland

    I just saw someone here posting that we should support Obama against Cllinton, by telling people to "just look at the polls"

    Honestly, I rest my case and give up

    America, vote for who the polls tell you


    bury the media

    bury the polls


    will the last intelligent person leaving America please bring the flag!!!!

    January 8, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |

    Sinead in Ireland, I got it Sinead in Ireland

    January 8, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  25. Lucy

    I cannot believe that Bill said what he said about Obama and Iraq! He should know very well exactly what Obama said and the context of this partial quote. Yet he threw this out there to make people question Obama's honesty–that is so low. At most, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and say that even if he actually knew nothing about Obama's real statement (which is possible considering that he brought George Bush into it, who was not in the original statement at all) and was just repeating some info an oppo-research staff member told him, it still was irresponsible. I think it's also terrible that the press is just quoting BC and not reminding the public of the WHOLE quote and the context–that was TOTALLY different than what BC is inferring here.

    In case anyone doesn't know what the whole quote is, Obama said in response to a question about what he thought about the Democratic candidates lack of foresight into the war that he could not say what he would have done in their place since he was not yet in the Senate–he did not in any way say that he wasn't sure if he was against the war or not! The question was one of those thorny ones that was trying to put him in a position to possibly criticize his fellow party members; Obama was being judicious. Plus, he went on to say more than that.

    BC has totally distorted reality for personal gain. But what's new?

    January 8, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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